THE CONTEXT:On January 12, 2022, the Union government sent out a ‘Proposal for Amendments in IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954’, to the state governments. As per this, an IAS officer whom the Union wishes to place on deputation would “stand relieved” from their respective cadre, irrespective of the state government’s consent. These proposed amendments have created a controversy that many states have termed them anti-federal while the Centre has rejected such a claim. This write-up examines these issues in detail.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT IAS (CADRE RULES) DEALING WITH CENTRAL DEPUTATION?
RULE-6 of IAS (cadre) Rules, 1954• To ensure the service of IAS officers at the Centre, suitable provisions have been made under the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954.
• Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service is covered under Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954.
MANNER OF DEPUTATION UNDER RULE-6• A cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government.
• In case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.
ROLE OF THE IAS OFFICER .Rule 6(2) states that “no cadre officer shall be deputed to certain kinds of organization or body except with his/her consent.
CENTRAL DEPUTATION RESERVE• The Indian Administrative Service regulations provide for Central Deputation Reserve (CDR) not exceeding 40 per cent of the Sanctioned Duty Posts (SDP) of a cadre/joint cadre.
• The Central Deputation quota fixes the share of the Government of India out of the State cadre.
HEALTHY CONVENTIONS IN THE PAST• In the past, certain healthy conventions were generally followed. No officer was sent on central deputation against his/her own will. Every year, the States would prepare an “offer list” of officers who had opted for central deputation without arbitrarily withholding any names.
• The Centre would choose officers only from among those “on offer” from the States. The States would relieve the officers picked up by the Centre at the earliest.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROPOSED IAS CADRE (AMENDMENT) RULES, 2022
WHAT IS THE AMENDMENT?
• The proposal amends Rule 6 of the 1954 Rules.
• It says that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Centre and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government as the case earlier but adds:within a specified time.
• If the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre and does not give effect to the Central government’s decision within the specified time, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as specified by the Central government”.
• In specific situations (national security, major disasters, domain expertise) where the services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest”, the State shall give effect to its decisions within a specified time.
• Additionally, from now on, the centre itself would decide the number of officers required to be deputed and the states would have to ensure this number.
WHY THE AMENDMENT?
• As per the Union, various state/joint cadres are not sponsoring an adequate number of officers for central deputation, as part of the Central Deputation Reserve (CDR).
• As a result of this, the number of officers available for central deputation is not sufficient to meet the requirement at the Centre.
• The number of IAS officers on CDR has gone down from 309 in 2011 to 223 as of date.
• The number of such officers on central deputation has gone down from 117 to 114 during the period in spite of an increase in the number of IAS officers at the deputy secretary/director level from 621 in 2014 to 1,130 in 2021.
• Only 10% of mid-level IAS officers were posted with the Union government in 2021, a sharp fall from 19% in 2014.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE OF THE STATES REGARDING THE PROPOSALS?
MAJOR OPPOSITION• The proposed changes in the rules have been opposed by eight states as per the RTI reply by the Union government.
• As expected, states ruled by the ruling party at the Centre have responded positively while others took strong objections to the proposed amendments.
CONTRARY TO COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM• The problem with the proposed amendments is that they would hamper the existing fabric of cooperative federalism.
• The state governments would be under compulsion to send officers on deputations against the wishes of the officers themselves.
• The existing deputation rules are already tilted towards the centre, such amendments would only introduce further stringency in cadre deputation.
PROBLEM OF ADMINISTRATIVE ANARCHY• Based on experiences in the recent past, State governments have a justified apprehension that this proviso may be misused for political considerations.
• States say, what if the Centre unilaterally places at its disposal the services of the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and other key officers of a State ruled by a rival party or deputes them to other States.
• This will create administrative anarchy in states.
POOR STATE CONTROL OVER BUREAUCRACY• The proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules would allow the Union government larger control over the deputation of IAS officials vis a vis the states.
• This will in turn reduce the control over the personnel management practices of IAS officers by the state government.
• If the proposed amendments come into effect, then the state governments lose their autonomy as they would have to make a said number of AIS officers available for deputation as would be prescribed under the Central Deputation Reserve (CDR).
• The lack of effective government control over the bureaucracy is antithetical to the democratic form of government.
REDUCED INDEPENDENCE, SECURITY, AND THE OVERALL MORALE• The amended rules may put officials posted in states in a dilemma while discharging their duties, and this may lead to a situation of instability.
• The Officers career growth prospects may suffer due to the Centre-State tussle. It may also undermine the principle of political neutrality of the civil services.
LONG TERM DAMAGES• If States begin to doubt the loyalty of IAS officers, they are likely to reduce the number of IAS cadre posts and also their annual intake of IAS officers.
• They may prefer officers of the State Civil Services to handle as many posts as possible.
• In course of time, the IAS will lose its sheen, and the best and the brightest candidates will no longer opt for the IAS as a career. Short-sighted decisions can do long-term damage to the polity.
REASONS FOR THE FALL IN THE NUMBER OF OFFICERS FOR CENTRAL DEPUTATION
POLITICAL CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE CENTRE AND THE STATES• Both the Centre and the States have at times flouted the healthy conventions in deputation for political considerations.
• In July 2001, the Centre unilaterally “placed at its disposal” the services of three IPS officers of the Tamil Nadu cadre.
• In December 2020, the Centre did the same in respect of three IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre.
• In May 2021, the Centre unilaterally issued orders for the central deputation of the Chief Secretary of West Bengal just before his last day in service.
• In all these cases, the States concerned refused to relieve the officers.
QUESTIONABLE ROLE OF STATES• Some States used to vindictively withhold the names of some of the officers who had opted for central deputation or delayed their relief after they were picked up by the Centre.
• An example was that of a senior IPS officer who was not allowed to join the Central Bureau of Investigation despite earlier clearance and was suspended by the Government of Tamil Nadu in May 2014 when she relieved herself from the State pursuant to the Centre’s direction.
• States are also not sponsoring enough officers which also is another reason as recently indicated by reports related to Andhra Pradesh.
STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS• Poor working conditions in junior-level posts, an opaque and arbitrary system of empanelment for senior-level posts, and lack of security of tenure at all levels also are reasons for the shortage of IAS officers.
PERSONAL CHOICE OF OFFICERS• Many are not opting for Central deputation because they also see better career growth in the State.
• There is also a sense of uncertainty regarding how many actually make it to the top ranks at the Centre and who will be unceremoniously repatriated if they don’t find a way with the political setup.
HOW DOES THIS MOVE ADD ANOTHER ATTEMPT TOWARDS CENTRALISATION OF POLITY?
There has been a tendency towards increasing the unitisation of Indian polity recently. It is held that the Union government has been encroaching upon the legislative, policy, and administrative domains of the states. Many states have argued that this centralizing approach has disturbed the federal nature of Indian governance and is making states “glorified municipalities”! They provide a few examples of this alleged encroachment which are briefly discussed below:
FARM LAWS•Agriculture, Agri trade and market, etc are state subjects. But the union brought crucial laws through the colourable exercise of power.(Repealed later)
NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY • States have not been consulted at all in its formulation and the governance structure proposed has no role for states.
15TH FINANCE COMMISSION•The terms of reference to the commission like whether revenue deficit grants are to be provided to states, making grants conditional on implementing the pet schemes of the centre, etc have been criticized by states.
GST COMPENSATION•States argue that despite the pandemic hitting their revenue badly, the centre has not fulfilled the commitment to compensate the states under GST.
ELECTRICITY ACT•The act mandated states to privatize their DISCOMs, remove subsidies and provide for DBT and Vest the tariff deciding power with a central body etc
NATIONAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY ACT•The NIA act has been challenged by the Chhattisgarh government in the SC alleging that the act encroaches into the “policing” function. Police is an exclusive state subject and the NIA exercising the power of a police force is contrary to the federal division of subjects in Schedule 7.
DOWNGRADING A STATE INTO A UT•After the repeal of Art 370 and 35A, through the Jammu Kashmir reorganization act, the state of J&K has been downgraded into a UT.
MISUSE OF INVESTIGATIVE AGENCIES•The Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, the CBI and the Income Tax dept etc. have been more enthusiastic to go after the opposition-ruled states and their prominent functionaries.
ROLE OF GOVERNORS•Self-Explanatory.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE WAY FORWARD?
EXPANDING THE POOL OF INTAKE• With the Government of India itself enthusiastically promoting lateral entry to posts in the Centre and providing an increased share of central deputation posts to the central services, there is no need to push unwilling IAS officers on central deputation.
STREAMLINING CENTRAL STAFFING SCHEME• Officers of the level of deputy secretary/director and above are usually appointed in central government ministries/departments (i.e. on central deputation) under the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS).
• The CSS needs to be streamlined with timely cadre review, selection and appointment and timely repatriation etc.
COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM• Non-availability of a sufficient number of officers at the Centre is affecting the functioning of the Central government since New Delhi needs the services of these officers to obtain fresh inputs in policy formulation and programme implementation. Similarly, states also benefit from the policy-level exposure of the officers which can improve state-level governance
• Thus, better consultation and coordination between the Union and states are needed for ensuring a win-win situation for both.
GREATER DECENTRALISATION• There should be greater decentralisation within the elected organs of the state, like the Panchayati Raj system. Greater control should be bestowed on people themselves.
• More decentralization must be accompanied by restructuring and rationalizing the government machinery at the Centre and states and giving control to local governments.
INTROSPECTION BY THE CENTRE• The centre should introspect and find out the reasons for the perceptible decline, over a couple of the last few years, in the number of officers opting to go on Central Deputation.
• The empanelment process based on 360n degree appraisal is one such issue that needs reforms.
DE CADRE POSTS• Many posts are manned by IAS and other AIS officers are strictly not cadred posts.
• So, such officers need to be relieved which will free up these officers for deputation.
THE CONCLUSION: As per the union government, a final view on the proposed amendment has not been taken. It is in the interest of the union, states and the officers to have wider consultation before finalizing the changes. Also, the larger issues related to cadre management, personal administration, centre-state relations and autonomy of civil services need to be addressed as a priority.
1. The proposed IAS cadre(amendment) rules, 2022 addresses the problem of shortage of officers in the ministries and departments of the union government. Examine.
2. How far do you think the proposed IAS cadre(amendment) rules, 2022 is another instance centralization of Indian polity?
3. Political control of administration is the necessary concomitant of democratic accountability. Analyze the statement in the context of the proposed IAS cadre(amendment) rules, 2022.
4. Although the All India Services are the manifestations of the unitary features of Indian polity, their management should be governed by federal principles. Elucidate.